SPRINGFIELD, Ky. (KT) – Wesley Paul, a passionate evangelist who has preached in 35 countries, says God is calling him to serve in his own backyard.
“I have not lost hope for America because there is still familiarity with the gospel,” he said. “We have not yet become far removed from the gospel like Norway, Sweden, Germany or some of the European countries.” We must get back to focusing on evangelism in the local church, he says.
He would like to see some of that start in Kentucky, where he currently resides in Springfield.
“In the last year, God has sent me to do so many things in my backyard,” he said. “This is what God has orchestrated. I’ve seen God open up amazingly some doors in Kentucky.”
Paul said Todd Gray, the Kentucky Baptist Convention’s executive director-treasurer, has been instrumental in some of those “open doors” in the commonwealth.
Gray, who’d heard about Paul preaching at Spartanburg Baptist Church in South Carolina two years ago, knew of his reputation as an evangelist. Spartanburg is the home church of Billy Graham. The church experienced a powerful move of God and invited him to return that spring for a week-long revival.
When Gray went to speak at Springfield Baptist Church, where Paul and his wife are members, he asked him to do some door-to-door evangelism with him. Paul jumped at the opportunity. They did some more door-to-door witnessing in Danville before an associational meeting.
“He loves door-to-door evangelism,” Paul said of Gray. The pair knocked on neighborhood doors before attending an associational meeting where Gray introduced him to Danville area pastors.
That seemingly lit the fire for Paul, who has spoken at several Kentucky Baptist churches over the last year including most recently at Springfield Baptist Church, Shively in Louisville and Danville First Baptist Church.
“He desires to not only preach the gospel but also to equip God’s people for the work of evangelism,” Gray said.
Leaves India with ‘$20 in my pocket’
Paul is from India. He says he left home with “$20 in my pocket” at the age of 19. He came to Cumberland College in the early 1980s. In Williamsburg he met his future wife, Debbie, and joined Main Street Baptist Church in Williamsburg in 1984. He started preaching youth revivals through the Baptist Student Union and hasn’t stopped since.
“I tell people I’ve been preaching since I was 19 years old,” he said. “My mother named me, prophetically, after John Wesley.”
Even though Hindu is the prominent religion in India, Paul was born into a Christian home. He says his mother was influenced by John Wesley and “it changed the mind of a young mother in India with thoughts of abortion.”
Her son has become that evangelist she prayed he would be. Paul has spoken at countless gospel crusades and festivals in India, Africa and around the world. He says it has been his passion to travel the world but now he believes God is calling him to a greater focus on Kentucky.
‘Deeply committed to the Lord’
Tim Mathis, pastor at First Baptist Church in Danville for 31 years, said Paul was the first evangelist from any distance away that he’s used in the past 15 years.
“He did a fantastic job,” Mathis said. “He's deeply committed to the Lord. We baptized two Sunday and have six more lined up this Sunday.” He called Paul a powerful preacher who loves people.
Paul’s work begins well before the revival meeting. His preparation skills lead the way and always begin with fervent prayer, Mathis said.
“He guided us through a process. He came on two different occasions on Wednesday evenings and shared about counseling with people. He shared with us how to set up for a revival. That’s the first time we had an evangelist do that.”
Mathis said Paul’s passion for those who aren’t followers of Jesus is obvious.
“He started our revival on Nov. 10 after arriving from India on Nov. 8 where he had been preaching two to three times a day.”
Engaging the lost
Jim Clontz, an associational mission strategist in the South District Baptist Association, said every statewide association should have Paul come for an evangelism conference.
“One of the key components of it is he has a manual on evangelism,” Clontz said. “It is very detailed but on a level that lay people and pastors can comprehend it. It’s very, very good.”
Clontz says Paul’s evangelistic approach is rooted in solid biblical theology and is very accessible to the average Christian.
Paul has been active with the Luis Palau Evangelistic Association and Billy Graham Evangelistic Association over the years.
Steve Boyd, the pastor of Simpsonville Baptist Church, said Paul has tremendous speaking skills and delivers a biblical message. Paul spoke in Simpsonville in September.
“The best thing I can tell you is I will use him again,” Boyd said. “I can recommend him to others.”
His preparation was flawless, Boyd said. “He asked if we could get together to pray and he drove to Simpsonville. He wanted to ask questions. We talked about how the invitation would be offered, how decision counselors will be used… just very thorough.”
Boyd said six professions of faith were made the day Paul preached, three couples joined the church and there were multiple recommitments or rededications. He said almost two dozen came forward seeking prayer and counsel.
Boyd says next time he plans to utilize Paul’s prayer and community emphases.
“He let the Bible speak and I appreciated that. We had folks coming to the altar, crying out to the Lord to be saved. The tears weren’t fake.”
Paul said: “God is moving through the office of evangelist and he wishes more churches would welcome it.” He says he’s available to train evangelists and help local church with evangelism.
“I have about seven or eight guys coming to Kentucky from all over the world. Not only do I want to evangelize, hold festivals and mentor evangelists, I want to speak into their lives and help them find opportunities to serve.”
Learn more about him at wesleypaul.org